Coldwater’s Brad Giere (24) and Cody Giere (54) signal a fumble recovery. Coldwater played Canton Central Catholic in the D-V high school football state championship at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

HS Football: State approves move to all Friday night playoff games

All high school football playoff games — until the state championship contests — will be on Friday nights beginning this coming season.

As expected, the Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors voted to approve the change during their June meeting at Columbus on Thursday morning.

Previously, playoff games were split among the seven divisions on Fridays and Saturdays through the state semifinals. But there was strong sentiment to move all those games to Friday only, which is traditionally a high school football night.

“The OHSAA has been considering this change for a few years now,” said Tim Stried, the OHSAA director of communications. “The attendance numbers for most Saturday playoff games has not been good the last few years compared to similar games on Friday nights and more sites are telling us they can’t host games on Saturday nights.”

OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross said last month that the popularity of college football, particularly in Ohio State, has had a negative affect on Saturday high school playoff game attendance.

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“Most of the people who’ve had conversations about this believe Friday night should be high school football night and there are too many conflicts when you get off Friday night,” Ross said.

Playoff games would be played on Fridays from the first round through the state semifinals. The state championship games would still feature one game on Thursday and three each on Friday and Saturday. Those championship games will be held Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 at the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.

The championship games also will be held in Canton in 2018, then will return for at least two years to Ohio Stadium in Columbus.

That’s the latest major change announced by the OHSAA in an unusually busy year. The long-awaited competitive balance factor will be implemented for the first time this fall. Having already released the factors for affected fall sports, the winter sports and those competitive balance factors will be released next week when the OHSAA officially announces the switch to Friday night football playoff games. 

The OHSAA also will hold boys and girls lacrosse state finals for the first time this weekend at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware. The OHSAA also held a boys and girls seventh-eighth grade track and field state championship for the first time last month at Lancaster High School.

Stried said the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association also was on board in lumping Weeks 11-14 playoff games to Fridays. 

“Saturdays in November are huge for college football,” Stried said, “so we want to try putting all high school playoff games on Friday nights for the first four rounds and see if that help boost attendance.” 

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